Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association Blog

Local Family Business Founder Wayne Stritsman Speaks About NYS Climate Plan

28 February 2023

Wayne Stritsman, Founder of family-operated business Best Fire Hearth & Patio in 1977, speaks about New York's energy plans alongside Republican Senators, who today unveiled a package of smart energy policies to pursue a cleaner energy future. The plan puts affordability and reliability first for New York ratepayers, in sharp contrast to some of the radical proposals coming out of Albany.

Thank you Wayne, NEHPBA member!

It’s not just stoves — gas furnaces and fireplaces are also polluters that can harm your health

8 February 2023

By Dharna Noor Globe Staff, Updated February 7, 2023, 5:29 a.m. 

For weeks, pundits, public officials, and people all over the Internet have been discussing the dangers of gas stoves and ovens. And with good reason: Research shows they spew emissions that warm the planet and threaten human health. 

But cooking appliances aren’t the only household items that run on methane gas. The fossil fuel also commonly powers furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces like the ones you may have relied on throughout this past weekend’s brutal cold. And like gas stoves, these appliances release pollution. 

“We should be very concerned,” said Leah Louis-Prescott, a manager at sustainability focused nonprofit RMI who focuses on building electrification. “These fossil fuel appliances are really harming our air quality and our health and of course the climate, and it has largely gone under the radar how big of an issue these appliances are.” 

There’s evidence that gas furnaces and hot water heaters have a smaller effect on indoor air quality than gas stoves — though they do create other problems. 

Less research has been done comparing the relative dangers of gas stoves to gas fireplaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, gas fireplaces produce far less indoor air pollution than wood burning ones. But Louis-Prescott said no appliances that run on gas should be considered truly safe. 

“At the end of the day, burning gas is burning gas. We’re emitting the same pollutants,” she said. “That pollution is going somewhere.” 

Venting makes a difference 

Like stoves and ovens, gas-powered heating appliances emit carbon monoxide, a toxic byproduct of combustion that can cause brain damage and heart problems that can sometimes be fatal. They also emit a family of gases such as nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide, which can damage the lungs, respiratory system, and may increase cancer risk. 

But if they’re properly vented, allowing those toxins to disperse into the air outside, the impact of gas furnaces, water heaters, and fireplaces on indoor air quality should be minimal, said Jonathan Buonocore, a professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health. 

“Venting is the most common way to get the air pollution out of the home and works fairly well,” he said. Still, more research should be done into how well that venting is really happening, Buonocore said. Without knowledge of how well-ventilated each individual appliance is in your home, it’s hard to know which poses the most risk. 

In Massachusetts, gas furnaces and water heaters must always be vented, according to the state’s Chapter 68 code on chimneys and vents. 

“You’re going to have carbon monoxide otherwise,” said Adi Rosa, of the HVAC installation company Presidential Electric and HVAC Services of Boston. “If we don’t vent it, somebody’s going to die.” 

But unvented gas fireplaces and other space heaters — which are more likely than their vented counterparts to pour carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide into the home — are permitted if they meet specific safety conditions. 

“Unvented propane or natural gas fired space heaters were introduced into the fire code in 2004 and are acceptable only when certain safety conditions are met, including permits, inspections, [and carbon monoxide] alarms in the same room,” said Department of Fire Services spokesman Jake Wark. “Unvented natural gas fireplaces must be listed by a nationally recognized testing lab or the flue gases must be properly vented according to the gas and building codes.” 

Those regulations may help mitigate risk. But Shelly Miller, author of a 2011 study on the appliances’ emissions, said unvented fireplaces shouldn’t be allowed anywhere under any circumstances. 

“Unvented natural gas fireplaces should be banned due to the elevated risk for adverse health effects,” she said. 

Scott MacFarlane, who owns Dedham heating and cooling company MacFarlane Energy, said he sometimes sees improper venting of gas appliances in Massachusetts buildings. 

“Over the years, I’ve see a lot of stupid things go on,” he said. 

Either way, emissions still flow outdoors 

Even vented gas fireplaces, furnaces, and water heaters can harm indoor air quality if they are installed improperly, or if vents and chimneys get blocked. 

“The performance of chimneys and ventilation systems is really important,” Buonocore said. 

And while venting can improve indoor air quality, it still degrades the air we breathe outdoors. 

“When we talk about indoor and outdoor air, there’s not a hard line that’s so easy to delineate, because you can open a window and the outdoor air comes in,” said Louis-Prescott. “They’re constantly interchanging, and you’re breathing in both.” 

In fact, in Massachusetts, gas appliances produce more than nine times as much nitrogen oxides pollution as gas power plants, she said, citing federal data. 

“We as a country have taken meaningful steps forward to help curb power plant pollution,” said Louis-Prescott. “But we’ve yet to take meaningful steps to curb appliance pollution.” 

Different levels of pollution 

Different appliances emit various pollutants at different levels. For example, a 2020 study found that gas water heaters emit more carbon monoxide than any other gas appliances, while gas furnaces emit the most nitrogen oxides. 

These appliances may be exposing us to other dangerous emissions as well, Buonocore said. He contributed to a study last year that found gas used for stoves across Boston contains benzene — a carcinogen deemed unsafe at any level of exposure. 

“We specifically looked at stoves,” he said, “but there’s no reason that I can think of for why the gas going to your stove would be different from the gas going into your furnace.” 

Unequally harmful 

Not everyone is equally affected by degraded air quality from gas appliances. In Massachusetts, people of color are exposed to 55 percent more pollution from residential appliances compared to white communities, a 2021 paper found. 

Another group facing greater risk: renters, who often have less control to choose their own appliances. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report found that residents living in small apartments with gas furnaces are more likely to face unsafe levels of carbon monoxide and backdrafting, which is when exhaust gas moves back into the home instead of being vented outside. 

The impact on climate change 

In addition to their harsh effects on air quality, gas appliances — which run on methane, a planet-warming greenhouse gas — contribute to climate change. 

A 2022 report concluded that gas stoves emit methane even when they’re switched off, which might suggest leaks in stove fittings and connections with gas service lines are ubiquitous. Researchers are working to determine the planet-warming effect of other appliances’ leaks. 

Boston Globe

Urgent Call-to-Action for New York Members

26 January 2023

Urgent Call-to-Action for New York Members,

New York Legislator will hear and vote on the “All-Electric Buildings Act” this coming Tuesday, January 31, 2023.  Please click HERE to voice  your opposition to this bill.

NEHPBA firmly supports a clean environment, however, moving too fast and passing unattainable legislation is damaging to our state, our businesses, and our households. 

Please share this link with your customers, your employees, any other trade associations, and your contractors.*

Please send by END OF DAY, MONDAY, 1/30/23.

Once you open the link:

  • Click “submit all letters” – this way the letter will be sent to all 8 members of the committee!
  • Fill in your name, email and zip and click submit – it’s that easy!

*Please note that if you open this link more than once on your browser, you may have to go up to the top right and sign out so that your customers, employees, vendors, etc can then enter their name and email address.

Thank you for your time and attention!

NEHPBA says record demand for firewood and wood-burning stoves could mean shortages in the dead of Northeast winter.

11 January 2023

January 11, 2023


NEHPBA says record demand for firewood and wood-burning stoves could mean shortages in the dead of Northeast winter. 

The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association says its members are reporting huge demand for new wood-burning stoves, hearth products and service appointments – all pointing to a worsening of firewood shortages that have impacted other regions. 

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today warned that firewood shortages which have impacted other regions of the U.S. and the world may create serious challenges for households in the Northeast that rely on wood-burning systems as a supplementary heating source. Compounding the problem is a reduced supply of wood-burning stoves because of the forced retirement of unsold equipment that does not meet EPA standards. 

Germany, Switzerland and Poland are experiencing some of the most severe firewood shortages and related disruptions. Waiting periods in Germany are as long as one year to purchase a wood-burning stove, and the availability of wood has plummeted since the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Protected forests in Switzerland are being poached for firewood, according to forestry officials, and the government in Poland is urging people to stockpile wood because there is also a shortage of coal. 

Meanwhile, the skyrocketing cost of natural gas, home heating oil and electric heat is driving more and households to increase the amount of wood they burn in places like Saratoga Springs and Albany, NY and areas of Maine and Vermont. And changes in EPA regulations, which forced all wood-burning stoves manufactured prior to May 2020 to be removed from the market, have contributed to a major shortage of available stoves with lower production numbers on new wood-burning equipment.  

“There are global events contributing to this potential crisis, and there are outcomes of these new product standards that are making things much worse,” said Karen Arpino, Executive Director of the Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association. “We took tens of thousands of new stoves that had already been manufactured off the market. The new emissions standards are the correct move going forward for all newly manufactured stoves. But there was a finite amount of pre-existing equipment that could have been sold through. That is a major factor in this current shortage.” 

Heavy demand for firewood is coupling with labor shortages to create a one-two punch making wood fuel scarcer in the Northeast. Not enough wood can be cut, split and prepared for sale and delivery to keep up with demand. A nationwide arctic blast just before Christmas 2022 is bringing the shortages of both stove equipment and wood fuel into sharp focus. 

The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is a trade association representing more than 300 individual member retail and related companies throughout the Northeast. In just the states of New York and Massachusetts, NEHPBA has more than 140 members supporting over 800 families - the vast majority of which are independent “mom and pop” small businesses that are significant community contributors in the markets they serve across the region. 

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. But a sensible long-term strategy to achieve responsible energy diversity must be the objective, as opposed to costly and damaging restrictions and bans that do little on their own to help reach our climate goals. 

The U.S. Department of Energy and NEHPBA recommend a series of steps that can help maximize the heating efficiency and safety of wood stoves and fireplaces. 

  • Clean your stove or fireplace regularly.  
  • Clear a path for smoke coming out of the chimney. 
  • Check the flue damper and make sure the seal around it is tight. 
  • Insulate your chimney with a chimney liner. 
  • Prevent lost heat by closing your flue damper when not in use. But make a note or other REMINDER to reopen it before making another fire. 
  • Consider an upgrade to your fireplace. Tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system will improve performance when it comes to warming your home.
  • Have your chimney inspected by a professional. NEHPBA is the best source of referrals for qualified chimney, stove equipment and hearth service professionals in the Northeast

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association 

The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has been representing the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast since 1985. We are the first and largest regional affiliate of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) – the national trade association representing the industry’s legislative, regulatory policy and business interests in Washington, DC.  

Our mission is to promote all aspects of the hearth, patio and barbecue industries, to educate consumers on the benefits, proper use and maintenance of all hearth systems and products, and to communicate effectively with legislators and regulators while advocating for the interests of our members in our region’s state governments. NEHPBA is the collective voice of our industry in the Northeast on all government affairs matters that impact our members.

Our membership is made up of the Northeast’s top professionals and companies from the hearth industry: manufacturers, distributors, retailers, installers, service providers, and associated members.

NYS Climate Action Council Finalizes Scoping Plan

20 December 2022

The NY state Climate Action Council voted 19 to 3 yesterday to approve the CAC Scoping Plan. As part of this aggressive program to address climate change, the commission approved plans to phase out fossil fuel-burning furnaces beginning as soon as 2025.

The plan also requires energy-efficient electric heat pumps or other non-combustion heating systems in every new home built in 2025 or thereafter. 

For existing homes, after 2030 residents whose fossil fuel-burning heating systems fail will have to replace them with a zero-emission system.

Changes to the plan include the elimination of language that would have called for immediate passage of legislation requiring all-electric construction statewide, and additions that allow fuels like hydrogen and “renewable natural gas” or factory farm biogas to qualify as clean energy.

Some of the policies approved in the Climate Action Council’s “final scoping plan’' require further action before they can be enforced. For example, the new regulations on heating systems will require changes to the state building code. Other changes may require new legislation; this will take time.

But the council’s “final scoping plan” is now the official policy for how state government will meet goals for greenhouse gas reduction required under a state law passed in 2019. There is still a lot of work to do to implement this plan. To emphasize how challenging this could be for legislators and to put into perspective the timeline issues, keep in mind that Vermont created a very drastic plan to address climate change then ultimately passed very little of the legislation written to put that plan into play during the 2022 legislative session. 

More information will be forthcoming as I delve deeper into the Scoping Plan, but please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

You can review the 445-page plan here

Sources: NewYorkUpstate/WKBW

Total reliance on electric heat is a dangerous game during Northeast winters

31 October 2022

The regional power grids serving New England and New York are both at critical risk of maxing out as the Northeast prepares for a potentially brutal winter and the prospect of rolling blackouts or storm-related outages.

Natural gas supplies are at near record lows and demand on the power grids is being driven higher by increased electrical vehicle use and a push to exclusively use electricity for heating homes. That’s bad policy in one of the coldest regions for winter in all of the U.S., and it will contribute to making the grids less reliable in the event of severe cold weather conditions.

We’ve already been warned by grid operators that winter power outages and other weather-related disruptions could devastate millions of residents in the Northeast, as seen not long ago in Texas. Over-reliance on electric heat is a dangerous risk when weather events threaten to thrust households and families into the cold for days or even weeks.

This problem is not going away. In fact it’s only getting worse. Energy security is more important than ever as global events have dramatically impacted supplies and driven costs to record levels.

Imported liquefied natural gas is crucial for the Northeast to cover supply gaps during the winter months. Yet disruption in pipelines, closing of pipelines, the war in Ukraine and Russia’s disruption of supplies through its pipeline are already a threat to our energy supplies. A tough winter could mean real problems as global demand for natural gas reduces the availability of supplies for gas-powered electric plants.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported

“The region’s power-grid operator, ISO New England Inc., has warned that an extremely cold winter could strain the reliability of the grid and potentially result in the need for rolling blackouts to keep electricity supply and demand in balance. The warning comes as executives and analysts predict power producers could have to pay as much as several times more than last year for gas deliveries if severe weather creates urgent need for spot-market purchases.”

“Demand is growing not just regionally and nationally for natural gas, but globally as well. And that global competition is having a direct impact on the cost and availability of fuel to heat homes in New England and New York,” said Joel Etter, President of the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA). “The timing could not be worse for any initiative to purposely reduce gas supplies and artificially impact demand by harming energy diversity with building regulations and other measures.”

NEHPBA supports the recent request by New England to the U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm that domestic LNG imports be allowed to the region. We also agree that more coordination is needed with the federal government to ensure energy reliability and diversity.

Expanding our national energy portfolio and supply resources to include more renewable sources is crucial, and NEHPBA supports that as New England, New York and the entire U.S. work to achieve important climate goals. But that is not a transition that can be made abruptly without serious risk to households and families.

“If you are heating your home exclusively with electricity in the Northeast, your bills this winter will be the highest they’ve been in years,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “The idea that you must also prepare for a potentially dangerous situation with no heat for several days because the power grid can’t keep up is troubling.”

Rising fuel costs spark rush to buy firewood and stoves for home heating - NEHPBA in the News!

18 October 2022

Consumers also looking to buy wood stoves, chainsaws

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lou Faraone has what he describes as four miles' worth of seasoned firewood, laid end to end, so he’s confident he’s got enough to meet demand. 

But some days he figures he could use even more.

“It’s been a crazy year,” said Faraone who operates Exit 15N Firewood here.

More and more homeowners call or email him every time there is news about another increase in energy and heating costs for the coming winter.

Lou Faraone started selling firewood as a third career. He started in Malta and moved to Wilton to expand the business. He sells wood for cooking to 52 local restaurants. Video: Times Union

Others agree that rising gas, electricity, oil and even propane prices have prompted many New Yorkers to turn to firewood for heat.

Some may have old stoves purchased years ago which are being pressed back into service while others are looking at new installations.

“When fuel costs more they are going to look at wood,” said Victor Cardona, who operates Firewood Connect, an on-line directory that allows customers to contact local firewood sellers.

Heating costs are certainly expected to jump this winter.

Earlier this year, National Grid, which supplies natural gas and electricity across much of the Capital Region and upstate New York, predicted that heating bills will rise 31 percent during the five-month winter heating period that starts in November. The average residential customer is expected to pay $651 over the five-month period, or an increase of $155. It’s the biggest increase in more than a decade.

Other forms of heating are going up as well.

Propane, derived from natural gas and which is popular in rural locations without gas line hookups, was selling for $3.46 a gallon in September, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, NYSERDA. In 2020 it was $2.46 a gallon.

Electricity is up almost 46 percent year over year as of June, according to NYSERDA.

With high demand, wood costs are also rising. Some providers like Advantage Tree Service in Delmar, have held prices at $395 per cord delivered (within a five mile radius) for the past two years.

But others are charging more this year, although some charged under $300 in past years.

A cord is 128 cubic feet of stacked wood, or 4-by-8 feet of 4-foot long split logs.

Homeowners also are shopping for more wood stoves.

“There’s a ton of people,” said Lucas Stritsman, who operates Best Fire Hearth and Patio in Colonie.

“People want to hedge their energy position,” he said.

Like others in the industry, the store has its roots in the 1970s Arab oil embargo, which led to gasoline lines at service stations and a newfound concern over fuel scarcity.

While energy prices are the underlying spark of this latest boom, customer interest can be inflamed by specific changes in the weather or by news events.

“We see a lot more interest when it gets cooler,” said Cardona.

News events also add to the interest in wood. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, as most people now know, has caused a global rise in oil and gas prices.

Faraone noted that more people seemed to come in last month, after radio show host Glenn Beck, in a commentary about rising fuel prices proclaimed that “firewood is the new gold."

And Stritsman says some customers are looking to get wood stoves since they are worried about the possibility that gas appliances won’t be available in future years.

The state’s appointed Climate Action Council, which is developing guidance for greenhouse gas reduction policies, is looking at bans on new gas appliances and on new gas hookups in future years. The group is also looking at reducing the use of wood, which can emit soot and other harmful compounds.

That possibility has also driven up interest by buyers who may want gas fireplace inserts and fear they'll be unavailable in the future.

Either way, changing regulations are having an impact on sales, and that’s especially true for wood stoves, said Karen Arpino, executive director for the Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association, a trade group that includes wood stove sellers.

Wood stoves are currently in short supply in part because of tougher EPA emissions rules that took effect in 2020. Stoves made prior to May 2020, when the new regulations took effect, had to be dismantled.

The newer stoves are far cleaner and more efficient than their older cousins, but the new regulations took tens of thousands of stoves, that had already been manufactured, off the market.

Modern wood stoves can easily cost $3,000 or more, Arpino added. Set-up costs including installation of proper flues and safety features can add thousands of dollars additionally.

The forced retirement of pre-2020 stoves, combined with the same kind of pandemic-era labor shortages that plague all businesses, has led to shortfalls in stove production.

“It was a massive economic hurdle,” said Arpino. “Now it’s just a fight for products.”

Worker shortages aren’t just in the stove-making business. Some wood providers are struggling to get enough sawyers to keep up with demand.

“They just don’t want to work,” said Pam, who didn’t give her last name and who works at Anjoe Tree Service in Albany, one of several tree removal and trimming companies that also sell firewood.

They could use a couple more wood cutters, who can earn up to $30-an-hour with experience, she said.

“They work a couple days and maybe a week and realize it’s a little more (effort) than they thought,” she said, referring to people who try to work in the firewood business but can’t cut it.

Times Union, Rick Karlin, Oct. 16, 2022 

Natural Gas Spikes About To Show Up In Winter Electric, Heating Bills

22 September 2022

It is still technically summer, but Massachusetts energy officials are putting residents on notice now that the cost of heating their homes and keeping the lights on is likely to skyrocket this winter as the price of natural gas soars.

About half of New England's electric generation is powered by natural gas or liquid natural gas, commodities that are sold on the global market and subject to its whims. The region's relative overreliance on natural gas is going to mean budget-busting electric bills for many households this winter and state officials are reportedly working with federal counterparts to prepare for this winter.

"This winter will be, at best, a very high-cost energy winter," Judy Chang, undersecretary of energy and climate solutions in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said Tuesday morning. "So, everybody should conserve. Everybody who has close friends, please tell them conserve ... I think it's useful for everyone to be aware of that and spread the word for conservation as much as possible."

On Wednesday, National Grid announced many of its electric customers are going to get eye-popping bills when winter rolls around thanks to the price of natural gas being "significantly higher this winter due to global conflict, inflation and high demand."

Residential National Grid electric customers on basic service who use 600 kilowatt-hours of power will see their monthly electric bills jump from $179 in the winter 2021-2022 season to approximately $293 for the winter 2022-2023 season -- a 64 percent increase -- according to the company and its rate filing with the Department of Public Utilities.

"We know winter isn't far away, so we're encouraging and making it easier for our customers to take action now and letting them know that we are here to help," Helen Burt, National Grid's chief customer officer said in a press release highlighting its "Winter Customer Savings Initiative" that will seek to help customers reduce energy use to save money and connect with available energy assistance programs. - Colin A. Young/SHNS 

Baker Shook By Home Energy Conversion Cost

23 August 2022

A few months ago, Gov. Charlie Baker said he wanted to test the "mythology out there" that heat pumps aren't a realistic heating alternative for single-family homes in a cold weather climate like Massachusetts has by having his home evaluated as a potential electrification candidate.

The "mythology" that the governor was talking about in April is more about whether a heat pump, which transfers heat from the ground or air indoors, can effectively warm old New England homes like the 140-year-old one that Baker owns in Swampscott. But when he had experts out to take a look, he saw first-hand another one of the barriers to electrification -- the cost.

"Our house was all radiators when we moved into it; it was built in 1880, OK? We've converted more than half of it to forced hot air, OK? I had people come to tell me what it would take to sort of replace the rest of the radiators with heat pumps -- it was eye-popping," Baker said Thursday on GBH's Boston Public Radio after co-host Margery Eagan mentioned the cost of a heat pump.

Massachusetts has committed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 33 percent by 2025, at least 50 percent by 2030, at least 75 percent by 2040 and at least 85 percent by 2050, with tag-along policies required to get the state to net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. Getting electricity from renewable sources and switching things that run on fossil fuels to use that cleaner electricity is the state's primary strategy for meeting those requirements.

The governor made a pitch on GBH for one of the main features of his most recent climate legislation -- a massive energy innovation fund seeded with American Rescue Plan Act money -- and said he thinks the clean energy world needs to take a page from the COVID-19 response playbook to speed up technological advances that will help bring down the costs of electrification.

"The simplest comparison I can make to this is what really got us out of COVID wasn't rules and regulations and requirements and orders, OK? It was vaccines, right, built off of years of people studying and figuring out how to do [mRNA] and getting it done in a very short period of time," Baker said. "Innovation has to be part of the answer here." - Colin A. Young/SHNS | 8/22/22 9:52 AM

Boston wants to ban fossil fuels in new buildings

16 August 2022

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu addresses an audience during swearing-in ceremonies for Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Boston.

The city of Boston is seeking state permission to ban fossil fuels from new construction, a step toward reducing climate-harming emissions on a large scale, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Tuesday. 

Days after Gov. Baker signed a new climate law allowing 10 cities and towns in Massachusetts to implement such a ban, Wu said she is pushing for the state’s largest city to be included in the pilot project. 

Bans of fossil fuel in new buildings, forcing them to rely on alternative forms of heat, chiefly electric heat pumps, has been seen as a way to begin a larger-scale transition away from fossil fuel in homes and commercial businesses. If chosen for the pilot program, Boston would become one of a small handful of major U.S. cities to enact such a ban, along with New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C. 

“Boston must lead by taking every possible step for climate justice to achieve our carbon reduction goals,” Wu said in a statement. “Fossil fuels, including natural gas, are known polluters that have negative implications on the environment and public health, particularly within our environmental justice communities. 

Wu announced that the city will file a so-called “Home Rule Petition” with the Legislature, which will make it eligible to take part in the pilot, which exempts labs and medical facilities from a ban. The Wu administration will also start the process of talking with the community, business interests, environmental groups and others to define what a ban would look like in Boston, including setting the bounds of a multi-year timeline to phase out fossil fuels. 

Banning fossil fuels from new buildings would help Boston to take a bite out of its biggest source of emissions. The on-site burning of fossil fuels accounts for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston, according to the city. And compared to getting existing buildings off of fossil fuels, which represents a logistical—and expensive—challenge, ensuring that new buildings are built climate-friendly is considered low-hanging fruit. 

Wu’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from climate advocates. “We must target new buildings as some of the lowest hanging fruit, to achieve zero emissions through equitable electrification,” Michele Brooks, lead Boston organizer with the Massachusetts Sierra Club, said in a statement. 

But that’s only if the state chooses Boston to be included in the pilot. 

The bill signed last week by Baker gives priority to the first ten communities to file home rule petitions, and ten communities have already taken that step: Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Arlington, Concord, Lincoln, Acton, Aquinnah, and West Tisbury. 

According to state Sen. Michael Barrett, who was a lead negotiator of the climate bill, the city of Boston was asked to file a petition months ago, as the climate bill was being crafted, so it could secure a spot in the pilot. The city opted not to, according to a spokesperson for Wu, because it wanted to see the final bill before proceeding. 

Slashing emissions from buildings represents a “real leadership opportunity” for the city — one that will be harder to achieve because of Boston’s hesitation in starting the process earlier, he said. 

There is still a chance that Boston will be able to join the pilot, though. The climate bill requires that communities meet an affordable housing requirement, and it’s unclear if all of the 10 communities that have filed so far will be able to do so. They will have 18 months to meet the requirement, and if it doesn’t happen, they lose their spot. 

After that, any town or city that has gotten local approval for a ban via town meeting or city council and has filed a home rule petition can try to join the ban. The state Department of Energy Resources will get to decide which communities get spots, regardless of the order in which they apply. 

Boston may find itself with some competition, according to Lisa Cunningham, a Brookline architect and co-founder of ZeroCarbonMA, a group working with towns to pressure the state to enact more aggressive climate policies. 

“Environmental justice communities very much want to move forward on this, and we have a few that we are working with” that could file home rule petitions, Cunningham said. There are several others working on this as well, she said.

By Sabrina Shankman Globe Staff - Boston Globe

NEHPBA Coalition Letter to Governor Baker on the MA Climate Bill

1 August 2022

This is what NEHPBA is doing regarding the MA Climate Bill. We are working with the Massachusetts Coalition of Sustainable Energy (MCSE). The letter we sent to Governor Baker can be seen here. The bill was passed by the House and Senate on Friday and sent to Governor Baker's desk. Baker sent the bill back with his amendments and late Sunday, July 31, a compromise bill was sent back to Baker for his signature. We are still waiting... NEHPBA will let you know if this bill is signed or vetoed.

NEHPBA Joins "The Fire Time Podcast" to Discuss Natural Gas Bans & Climate Change

27 April 2022

Tim Reed on "The Fire Time Podcast" was host to Joel Etter (NEHPBA President), Wayne Stritsman (outgoing HPBA Board Rep) and Karen Arpino (NEHPBA Executive Director) to discuss climate change and natural gas bans across the country and in the Northeast in particular. Listen to the Podcast: NEHPBA on the Battle of Electrification. And, if you don't listen to Tim Reed regularly, you should!

Want to listen on a different platform? You can, just click the link below.




Web Player

Statement from the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in response to MA Senate Climate Bill

8 April 2022

April 9, 2022


Statement from the Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association in response to MA Senate Climate Bill

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) released the following statement today:

The Massachusetts Senate Climate Bill is a major disappointment and a framework for severe disruption and job loss in the building and construction industry, significant inconveniences to homeowners and commercial property owners, and higher electric power rates that will hurt everyone. All of these negative impacts and economic injuries would result from a bill that guarantees more usage of dirty fuels such as coal and oil to generate electricity during peak demand periods.  

Banning fossil fuel primary heating sources and mandating electric power in all new construction is bad policy. These types of mandates and policies demonstrate a lack of vision by the authors of this Senate bill, and acquiescence to that myopic approach by all those who voted to approve it.  

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs a visionary approach to achieving our climate goals - an end result that the members of Northeast Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association strongly support. That means having a broad scope of options available to reduce building emissions. It means holding all energy producers accountable for decarbonizing their processes and fuels - not banning them. And it means the preservation of true energy diversity, so that major economic harm is not the unintended result.

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.

NEHPBA warns that proposed bans on natural gas and propane would have a “profound impact” on life in the Northeast

24 March 2022

March 24, 2022


NEHPBA warns that proposed bans on natural gas and propane would have a “profound impact” on life in the Northeast

Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association: ‘Consumer choices are at risk’ Appliances, heating systems, fireplace usage, even how we grill on July 4th will be disrupted by gas fuel bans.

Sudbury, MA The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today warned that a gathering movement to ban natural gas and propane fuel in communities around the Northeast is placing fundamental consumer choices at serious risk - and threatens to disrupt household habits and traditions while imposing costly new rules on building construction.

“What does a ban on natural gas and propane in new housing development really mean?  It means if you plan to build a new home that house will have: no gas stoves, no gas water heaters, no gas heating systems, no gas pool or spa heaters, no gas barbecues, no gas fireplaces, and no gas fire pits.” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies. “If you look deeper at these proposals around the Northeast, you immediately appreciate the profound impact this policy can have on your day-to-day life.  These policies will affect how you heat your home, the appliances you use, what goes in your fireplace, and how you grill on your patio and deck over the Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and during other precious family times.”

The Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association is a trade association representing more than 250 individual member retail and related companies throughout the Northeast. In just the states of New York and Massachusetts, NEHPBA has more than 140 members supporting over 900 families - the vast majority of which are independent “mom and pop” small businesses that are significant community contributors in the markets they serve across the region.

Proposed bans are also targeting new commercial and institutional buildings: most would prohibit new commercial buildings from using gas-fired boilers and halt restaurants from using gas stoves. Additionally: new health clubs, schools, and athletic facilities would not be able to heat commercial pools and spas with natural gas. Such restrictions would dramatically increase the cost of operations for all these types of facilities.

NEHPBA recognizes the changing landscape of the energy and fossil fuel industry. Its members are committed to working with government officials and regulators at all levels to increase access to more sustainable and climate-centric fuel sources throughout our homes and businesses. But a sensible long-term strategy to achieve responsible energy diversity must be the objective, as opposed to costly and damaging restrictions and bans that do little on their own to help reach our climate goals.

“Reducing dependence on natural gas will require an increase in electricity production because there will be a corresponding increase in demand for electricity. Unless that incremental electricity comes from specific sources, instead of reducing emissions gas bans can effectively just shift emissions from the building to electric generation sector,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “These changes would have a major impact on the most vulnerable among us. And unfortunately, this might be only the beginning. The next step will be for calls to retrofit existing homes and buildings to electricity at a potential cost of tens of thousands of dollars per household.”

More and more cities and towns around New England are considering proposed bans on natural gas or propane in new construction. The attorney general of Massachusetts has halted at least one local proposal because of doubts about its legality. Gas prohibition advocates, however, are also exploring ways to use state laws to accomplish a more broad-based ban.

“It’s likely that without expensive upgrades, the current electric grid may not be prepared to handle substantial electricity demand growth, which is exactly what would result from bans on gas and propane,” said Etter, the NEHPBA president. “Most importantly, these propane and gas bans take away consumer and business options and competitive pricing choices.”

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.

AG Healey Statement on Comments Her Office Filed Today on DOER's MA Stretch Code Straw Proposal

21 March 2022

“My office is committed to promoting policies that ensure we are meeting our state’s climate goals in a way that is equitable and protects all of our state’s consumers. Today, we filed comments with DOER confirming that it has the authority to create a special opt-in energy code under the Climate Act that will provide municipalities the opportunity to impose all-electric requirements. We will to continue to work with cities and towns to support their efforts to help build our clean energy economy.”


Today, the AG’s Office filed comments on DOER’s stretch code straw proposal, confirming that DOER has authority, under the Clean Air Act, to create a special opt-in energy code that includes all electric requirements.

Municipalities will have the option to adopt this specialized code under sections 31 and 101 of the Climate Act.

Once adopted, the municipality will be able to impose the all-electric requirements in their town or city notwithstanding any other state law that might be seen as conflicting.

In 2020, the AG’s Office successfully petitioned the Department of Public Utilities to investigate the future of natural gas in Massachusetts, becoming the third state to proactively plan for a transition away from fossil fuels.

Last month, the office called on the DPU to put forward both immediate and long-term reforms needed to ensure that the state’s residents and businesses don’t incur unnecessary costs as demand for natural gas declines.

Source: State House News

Thank You MCSG For Supporting NEHPBA - AGAIN!

1 March 2022

Massachusetts Chimney Sweep Guild presented NEHPBA with a $5000 check at their annual MCSG dinner on Saturday night. The donation will help support our lobbying efforts!


Thank you to Dave Bancroft, Owner of Sweepnman and President of MCSG, the MSCG Directors, and to the Members! What fun to get a huge check!!!!

NEHPBA Submitted Comment Letter on the CAC Draft Scoping Plan for New York

24 February 2022

Today, the NEHPBA Submitted our comment letter on the CAC Draft Scoping Plan for New York. Please see our letter here:

All Tags

By Month

Want to join?

Become a Member

Members of the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) and its regional Affiliates are the leading companies that produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in the hearth and barbecue industries in North America. Join today to take advantage of all the benefits your company will receive.